Elma FFA members at the 89th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Ind. Left to right, Emily Rockey, Aaron Bultman, Hannah Hartley, Mickey Velasco, Morgan Rockey, Dave Downing, Kortney Bailey, and Mikhaela Nelson.

Elma FFA students attend national convention

Elma High School FFA students attended the 89th National FFA Convention Oct. 16 to 22. Elma competed in dairy cattle evaluation, job interview, and national chapter – models of innovation.

The members competing in dairy cattle evaluation were Mickey Velasco, Dave Downing, Emily Rockey and Kortney Bailey. Overall, they placed 27th in the nation, receiving a Bronze Award. This event consists of a general knowledge test, DHI herd record evaluation practicum, a dairy management team activity, animal evaluation classes, and oral reasons. Velasco led the team, as well as secured the Ayrshire Special Award. Velasco was awarded as the overall best Ayrshire breed judge.

Morgan Rockey, a recent Elma High School graduate, competed in the job interview contest. Morgan, who attends the University of Washington, was tested on her ability to write job-related documents such as a cover letter and resume, follow-up documents and face-to-face interview skills. She received a silver level emblem and placed 16th in the nation.

Juniors Aaron Bultman and Hannah Hartley presented as a models of innovation finalists. Elma FFA was recognized as a Three Star national chapter. Models of innovation eligibility is based on chapters whose activities have the following characteristics: new and different; unique; something old with a creative twist; and a step above the ordinary. Bultman and Hartley created a 10-minute presentation on the Logging Rodeo to a panel of judges from around the country. There were only nine other chapters in the nation recognized for this accomplishment.

When the FFA students were not in competition, they encountered many different industry and cultural experiences. They spent the first two days in Chicago, Ill., and toured Navy Pier and Millenium Park. On their travels from Chicago to Indianapolis, the group stopped by Fair Oaks Farms, an agricultural theme park in Indiana.

At Fair Oaks Farms, the group went on the Swine Adventure where they witnessed a 2,700 sow swine operations in full swing. They learned how animals are raised in all stages of development and on a large scale. After leaving the Swine Adventure, they stopped by the birthing barn, where they saw two Holstein calves being born.

After the teams finished with their award banquets, they headed to 240 Sweets, a gourmet marshmallow outlet, where the students went on a hands-on tour of artisan marshmallow making. Everybody came home with a package of hand-made marshmallows, as well as a recipe for making them at home. Students also visited Not Just Popcorn, where they learned how the popcorn shop evolved from producing just caramel corn to offering about 400 different varieties of popcorn.